But with that said, there were some who used this method of biblical interpretation that led them down the path of liberal Protestantism which developed it over a 100 years ago. This led them to seek the historical Jesus' as though the Jesus of the Bible was a fake. This led them to question the Immaculate Conception as it has no basis in the Bible (and thus it led them to question, like Protestants, and then throw out Tradition or reinterpret Tradition as subservient to the historical/critical method). It also led them to reject the perpetual virginity of Mary, the Virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus (always understood as having a natural cause not supernatural). It led to denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus, his ascension and the Pentecost Event. The Holy Spirit was interpreted as any other kind of "spirit" would be, not supernatural but natural, like school spirit. In this case it was more psychological than theological. For example, simply to remember something from the past made it present, even though a vague memory.
This method of interpreting Scripture has had ramifications for the Liturgy and its dumbing down (resourcement) and for the crisis in Catholicism resulting from it. It leads to a very low Christology and focuses purely on the historical Jesus stripped of divinity. This leads to an immanent understanding and expression of the Liturgy over a transcendent one. Thus the horizontal in ceremony and architecture rule the day leading to the iconoclasm of the traditional Liturgy as foisted on the Church by academic liturgists informed by the historical critical method of biblical interpretation since Pope Pius XII allowed for this method in his landmark encyclical in 1942.
This method of biblical interpretation has thus produced reactionary factions, what some might call Catholic fundamentalists just as the original Protestant version of liberal exegesis produced Protestant Fundamentalism by the 1920's as a reactionary movement against this method of Scripture Study that destroys the Jesus of the Bible and historic Christianity.
And thus enters Pope Benedict with his hermeneutic of reform in continuity, a true gift to the Church of the 21st century! He pointed out in his books as pope the benefits and dangers of the historical critical method and sought a reform of it. He hits the nail on the head.
Here is an excellent article from Faith Magazine on Pope Benedict's reform of this method. You can read the full article by pressing this sentence.
Below are some excerpts:
Beyond Historical Criticism: Pope Benedict XVI and the Reform of Biblical Exegesis
The Historical-Critical method of biblical exegesis has dominated scripture study for more than a hundred years. Despite the uneasiness of many theologians, and especially the faithful, about the way this method has been conducted, few have dared to challenge its presuppositions, implications and exclusivity. One figure who has consistently called for a re-evaluation, purification and augmentation of the prevalent method of biblical exegesis is Joseph Ratzinger. Now as Pope Benedict XVI his contribution in this crucial area of theology will be all the more influential.
In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Ratzinger calls us to move beyond mere historical-criticism to a more profoundly theological reading of Scripture. He acknowledges that a truly historical approach is necessary, but while it only deals with the isolated past as past it "does not exhaust the interpretive task for someone who sees the biblical writings as a single corpus of Holy Scripture inspired by God". In expressing this point Ratzinger subtly shifts the debate away from an assessment of what the historical-critical method has achieved or not to a new openness for something which goes much further than historical-criticism itself.
Critical historical exegesis during the past hundred years has undoubtedly aided unprecedented advancements in our biblical knowledge: in the better understanding of literary genres, source history and textual composition; in etymology and archaeology; in the penetration of ancient languages and cultural settings. Nevertheless, at no other time has there been such a crisis in relating our faith to the findings of modern research. This problem is felt most acutely in relation to the person of Jesus Christ himself. Many scholars have separated the 'Jesus of history' from the 'Christ of faith' and in doing so have severed theology and doctrine from reason and reality. The potential fall-out from this trend is worrying: "Intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, is in danger of clutching at thin air".
.... Ratzinger comments that the great synthesis found in the traditional Christian interpretation, "would become problematic when historical consciousness developed rules of interpretation that made Patristic exegesis appear non-historical and so objectively indefensible".
...Twenty years ago Joseph Ratzinger observed:
Modern exegesis, as we have seen, completely relegated God to the incomprehensible, the otherworldly, and the inexpressible in order to be able to treat the biblical text itself as an entirely worldly reality according to natural-scientific methods.
...The secularisation of exegesis stems from a more general anti-supernatural rationalism that has been present and growing since the "Enlightenment". If one denies the reality of God and his active guidance of creation, then it follows that one will deny the concept of an inspired Scripture that gives us objective divine revelation and the key to understanding history.
When historical criticism, whose "specific object is the human word as human", is used by a rationalist scholar as the exclusive approach to Scripture, then faith is necessarily banished out of exegesis. Furthermore, when dogmatic belief in a unified corpus of Scripture is excluded any connection between the Old and New Testaments is rendered utterly tenuous.
As Ratzinger has noted:
The triumph of historical-critical exegesis seemed to sound the death knell for the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament initiated by the New Testament itself. It is not a question here of historical details, as we have seen, it is the very foundations of Christianity that are being questioned.